Middle East Conflict: Switzerland reiterates call for immediate cease-fire

Bern, Press release, 04.01.2009

The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs deplores the escalation of violence in Gaza. It has called for an immediate cessation of hostilities. In order to relieve the suffering of the civilian population and to guarantee humanitarian access, it has requested a durable reopening of crossings into Gaza.

On the 9th day of Gaza bombardments and following a terrestrial offensive by the Israeli army, the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) urgently calls on all parties to the conflict to immediately and permanently cease hostilities. Rocket fire by Hamas as well as Israeli military operations must stop in order to put and end to the suffering inflicted on civilian populations.  

The cessation of hostilities must guarantee the immediate reopening of all Gaza crossing points and the lifting of the blocade in order to allow rapid delivery of humanitarian aid in the form of aid workers, food, emergency medical aid and fuels. 

The FDFA protests the denial by Israeli authorities of access to Gaza by an emergency medical team of the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross). Although all conditions have been met since last Friday, access to the Gaza Strip continues to be refused. Via its embassy in Tel-Aviv, the FDFA is maintaining contact with the competent Israeli authorities in the hope of obtaining this access as soon as possible.   

In order to put an end to the suffering inflicted on the civilian population and to immediately stop the dramatic consequences of this conflict, the FDFA calls upon all parties to respect strictly the provisions of international humanitarian law, including the protection of civilian populations, access to victims and the law of proportionate response.

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Federal Department of Foreign Affairs